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Should I include more description of leadership?

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Hello all, and thank you for at least making it to my thread. Below, you will find my rough draft of my personal statement. Should I include more about my leadership experience and the benefits it presented to me? More about volunteer work? Please, any and all constructive criticism is welcome. Much appreciated!




Generally, a diagnosis of cancer does not elicit an immediate response of the words "I want to go to college" from the mouth of a 17 year old, but those were my true sentiments. Fueled by determination - I knew this was just another hurdle I would overcome; I would not let it deprive me of achieving my dreams. I was extremely sad to resign my acceptance into a combined Bachelor/Master's degree program for physician assisting, but my will was undeterred. After all, the first strands of my hair did not begin to fall out until the day after senior prom: I had many blessings that kept my spirits high. I began college from the Ireland Cancer Center infusion room, watching a live classroom streaming on my laptop while toxic chemicals streamed into my blood.


Situations may not be the most glamorous or ideal, but you can always find some intrinsic quality that brings you happiness. For me it's as simple as befriending the many patients four times my age, and being intrigued by the fascinating knowledge and stories the residents had to share.

Our relationships became symbiotic in the sense that they provided me with wisdom and sympathetic/empathetic companionship, while I provided youthful hope and optimism. We conquered insurmountable obstacles together. These relationships were much like those existing between the healthcare teams I observed where the PA's collaborated with the doctors and nurses to ensure the patients received the best care.


As a note, I was a notoriously bold patient known to wander during my stays as an inpatient. Nurses constantly found my bed empty at 5 AM when they needed to draw blood before the doctor's rounds, but I was never far; more often than not, I was found dreamily watching the sunrise through the east-facing window at the end of the hall. At any hour of the day, I had a relentless supply of questions for my healthcare team. “What is your reasoning for that decision?” or “what do you do when you are not with patients?” common questions found in my repertoire. The nurses did not have the answers, the doctors did not have the time, but the PAs smiled and indulged my vexing inquisitions. The PAs took the time to make me feel valid, informed and an actual part of my healthcare plan. A lifetime of follow-up care involving birth defects gave me the initial notion to pursue a career as a PA, however many moments during my cancer treatment further solidified that passion.


My comfort level in medical atmospheres was heightened by the intimate interaction of the PAs with myself. Despite appearing trivial or simple to others, the impact of going the extra mile for someone can change their entire outlook. For example, I worked as a state-tested nursing assistant (STNA) while I attending college full-time, and I was taken aback by a situation that occurred on my first overnight shift; a married couple, both Holocaust survivors, shared a room at this facility. I brought blankets to their room because I noticed their beds only had sheets. I gently placed the blankets on them and the wife began to cry. She said that no one had responded to her previous requests for a blanket, so she stopped asking. I had taken it upon myself to bring her warmth without any request. The profound satisfaction I experienced by improving an individual's quality of life for that night is what feeds my soul. The purpose of life is a life of purpose.

In my time as an STNA, I found that it is possible to connect with the residents on a deeper, more emotional level, for I had experienced the loss of independence, the peripheral neuropathy and emotional turmoil in addition to the multitude of hardships many were experiencing. I was cognizant of residents' unspoken needs. There is great value to me in taking the time to be thorough, and paying attention to detail. I learned this not only as an STNA, but during other volunteer experiences, such as leading a team of adolescents at a summer camp for research in genomics. I realize that my solid foundation in the sciences enabled me to be a better teacher during that time, for I was able to communicate more creatively and effectively. This was also evidenced in my tutoring sessions with elementary school children. Accomplishment and genuine satisfaction consumed me each time I was able to witness a smile curl across the face of a child who just grasped a concept. My own illness has strengthened me and reaffirmed my purpose, and I strongly desire to work in a capacity where I can utilize my strength and talents to serve others.


I have thoroughly enjoyed being a team leader in the laboratory: situations where I am able to help by teaching. At the present time, working in cancer research, I am utilizing everything I have learned and know to achieve a goal, but I sought more direct fulfillment based on personal interaction. I currently volunteer at a free medical clinic, where I am able to once again demonstrate compassion and empathy to promote quality care. I have been exposed personally and professionally to clinical decision-making and observed how healthcare teams work together to satisfy needs. It is my calling to work honorably as a physician assistant.

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